Lake Placid (1999) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

In today’s Hollywood names like J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon are synonymous with blockbuster franchises. It wasn’t always so. Looking back to 1999, the jump from television show-runner/writer to screen scripter wasn’t as easy nor glamorous. Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelly penned this creature feature set on a Lake in rural Maine. If Deep Blue Sea (released earlier the same summer) was a dirty cousin to Jaws, than Lake Placid is a second-cousin to 1950’s matinée horror/comedies. Director Steve Miner continues his late career hot streak following the devilishly fun and stylistic H20: Halloween 20 years Later.

A tranquil New England Lake becomes the haven for a man-eating crocodile as an investigative team, armed with new-age equipment and large grade fire-power must work together to kill the ferocious pre-historical predator. Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson), Fish and Game officer Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda), and eccentric crocodile enthusiast Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) are all in harm’s way.

The screenplay by David E.Kelly gives his characters a smarmy, witty voice that comes straight from his work in television. In this particular case it works well in advancing the (thin) plot along and providing more than a few chuckles along the way. Bridget Fonda (always a favorite of mine) provides real aptitude in delivering rapid fire dialogue and attitude with a hint of sweetness. It’s a shame she was never cast as a femme fatale in a film noir thriller.

Director: Steve Miner
Stars: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt

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